I really hate the Celtics. They’ve owned the Knicks over the past decade. They ended New York’s season last year, and have beaten the Knicks twice already this season. Worse than the losses are the ways the Knicks lose. They always outplay Boston in the first half and then fall apart in the 2nd half. Boston always gets the calls and they always hit the clutch shots. They own the Knicks.
To be completely honest, I’m worried about tonight’s game. The Celtics have been probably the hottest team in the NBA since the all-star break. In their last 10 games, the Celtics are 7-3. New York is also playing well, but has lost two games in the past week to Chicago and Miami. In both games, the Knicks inability to score has killed them. Melo is carrying his weight, but the rest of the team has failed to consistently score. I think the Knicks will compete in this game, but I’m wary of their ability to score enough baskets late in the game to win.
Here’s what to watch for:
- The Knicks must manufacture baskets. This can’t be a stand around and watch Melo game, offensively. The Knicks have to get some motion, ball movement, and fluidity in their offense. I think it is imperative for them to work the pick and roll tonight. They’ve really gone away from it the past couple games, but I think they’re going to need to do some of it tonight. New York needs to get Tyson Chandler to have 6-8 shot attempts tonight. He needs to contribute double digit points for the Knicks to win this game. I’d also like to see some back screens and cuts with Chandler and Landry Fields. New York has to find a way to attack the basket tonight, rather than settle for jump shots.
- The Knicks also need to find a way to manufacture three point shots. Our good friend Dan over at Knicksfan.net wrote a great piece today about how the Knicks need to screen for Steve Novak more often. I agree. Novak is close to useless when he’s not making it rain from threes. Under Mike Woodson, the Knicks haven’t run a ton of plays to get Novak open looks. A lot of the time, he stands outside the arc and waits for the defense to leave him wide open. Against good defenses, that isn’t going to happen. The Knicks need to manufacture open looks for Novak through motion and screens against a very strong Celtic defense.
- We need good JR tonight. Against Avery Bradley, an excellent defensive guard, JR is going to have his work cut out for him. He’s got to be that second scorer that the Knicks so badly need. The Knicks need 15-25 points from him tonight. Smith cannot shoot 1/18 tonight, or the Knicks will lose. If he has a bad game tonight, I don’t foresee a way the Knicks win. Unless some miracle allows Jeremy Lin to come back or something.
- How will Boston attack the Knick defense. Miami did an excellent job of playing small with the Knicks, having Chris Bosh at the 5. By having Bosh at the 5, Miami was able to draw Chandler out of the paint to cover Bosh and dominated New York in the paint and on the boards. Obviously, Kevin Garnett has the ability to stretch the floor as well. The Knicks have to find a way to keep Chandler in the paint in order to shut down the inside games of Rondo and Paul Pierce. I think we may see Melo guarding Garnett tonight. I also think the Knicks may play more conventional with Jeffries at the 4 and Chandler at the 5.